A strong genetic link has been discovered by the University of Washington researchers between obesity and asthma. The results of this study have been published by the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. Previous studies have revealed that obese people are prone to develop asthma. The new research reveals the common genetic factors that exist between the two conditions.
The researchers led by Dr. Teal Hallstrand analyzed 1,001 identical and 383 fraternal same-sex twin pairs within the University of Washington Twin Registry. They found that the largest portion of the association between asthma and obesity could be attributed to a common set of genetic factors, referred to as genetic pleiotropy, which implies that the same genetic factors may have a causal influence on both asthma and obesity.
Asthma and obesity are increasingly common disorders, especially in Westernized societies. A fundamental question about the relationship between obesity and asthma is whether the association between these two disorders is predominantly genetic or environmental.
The researchers also report that the effects of environmental exposures on asthma and obesity are likely to occur primarily in the context of a specific genetic background, referred to as gene-by-environment effects.